Tighter security is absolutely vital

It turns out Hillary Clinton had an option she did not use, probably wisely, in defending her use of personal email servers for official business while she was secretary of state: Everyone else is doing it.

As many a parent has had to explain to a teenager, the fact other people are engaging in unacceptable behavior does not mean it is all right. It means only that other mothers and fathers are not doing their jobs as parents.

After testifying to Congress last week that he has decided not to recommend Clinton be prosecuted for her illegal use of private email servers, FBI Director James Comey released a formal statement on the matter recently. It noted Clinton had been “extremely careless in (her) handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

Comey’s lengthy statement on the FBI probe disclosed something else, however: “While not the focus of our investigation, we also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.”

Read that again: The FBI found the State Department – perhaps, after the Pentagon, the federal agency trafficking in the most sensitive information in government – was lax in handling communications securely.

That may help explain why Clinton got away with what she did. Everyone else was doing it, too.

Clinton may have escaped punishment for putting national security at risk. But Congress should seek detailed information from the FBI and come down hard on the State Department. A lackadaisical attitude toward national security simply is not acceptable.